Stop believing everything you read online

By Lexi Donnel | Reporter

Whatever happened to skepticism when it comes to the Internet? Growing up, many of us heard from our parents and other adults in our lives, “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” Yet when the topic of politics is involved, these same people who told us this are the ones sharing fake quotes and stories.

“If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie, and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.” — Donald Trump, People Magazine, 1998.

This quote made its rounds on Facebook during and even after the 2016 election. It was shared by those who dislike Trump as a way to say, “See, I told you!” to his supporters. Unfortunately for those who want this to be true, Trump never said this.

One of my friends on Facebook shared this quote, and when I sent her proof that it was fake, she responded with, “Well, it is something he would say.” This mindset is wrong. Spreading fake quotes whether or not it sounds like something the person would say makes you look gullible as well as misleads those who believe you. It also makes whichever political side you are on look desperate to discredit the opposition.

Republicans are not off the hook, either. “I will get the NRA shut down for good if I become president. If we can ban handguns, we will do it.” — Hillary Clinton, Register, Aug. 8, 2015. A look at the Register’s archives shows that Clinton was not directly quoted nor interviewed on that date.

When I saw this quote, I thought to myself, “Even if she believes this, she would not say it publicly.” Others seemed to have a knee-jerk reaction; seeing a scary quote from a person they dislike makes them share this with their friends to show how tyrannical they believe she is.

If something sounds too good or bad to be true, it is probably fake. I was on Facebook when I saw the headline “Mike Pence: ‘Allowing Rape Victims To Have Abortions Will Lead To Women Trying To Get Raped,’” by The Facebook post has since been taken down, but at the time it was being seen and shared by many.

When I looked at the comments, I was shocked to see grown adults who believed this story was true. There were many comments saying they cannot believe that people would vote for him, how he is a horrible human and others saying they knew he hated women. If these people just pressed the about button on the Facebook page they were commenting on, they would have seen the page was “news/satire.”

My last example is a video that someone who is close to me shared on Facebook. It was a call to Austin’s KLBJ radio by a woman known as a welfare queen. In this call, she claimed that working would be stupid as the government paid for everything she needed. During the video, she mentions that she stays home and smokes marijuana on the taxpayer’s dime. The caller also claimed she knew illegal immigrants like her who did not contribute to society but get paid by the government.

When I heard this part of the video specifically, I was surprised that anyone believed this woman was telling the truth. To me it seemed like this woman was anti-welfare, anti-marijuana and anti-illegal immigrant. She wanted to play the part so people would get angry and turn to her side.

Next time you see something on the Internet that seems a little bit extreme or unbelievable, a little bit of research can stop you from spreading fake quotes, videos and news. Just because some quotes put a source, date and place does not mean it is true.

Lexi is a senior journalism major from Belleville, Ill.